We moved away immediately, renting out our beautiful view home on acreage. Hubby found a job in Seattle and never missed a day of work. I ended up in a job that wasn’t as much fun as teaching music, and we struggled for a few years.
Some people in the town we left got together, counted the community resources, and went to work with what they had to bring money into the community. One man started a microbrewery. Someone who owned a building started selling antiques on consignment. Someone else started taking people fishing. Little by little these people brought their town back one tiny business at a time. Once out of trouble, they had very little debt because they hadn’t been able to get loans to build their businesses. If one small town disrupted by a natural disaster and an economic tailspin could make massive changes, why can’t others? Starting a small engine repair shop in your garage is going to do more for you than waiting for the government to hand you a job.
Why on earth does anybody expect someone else to give them a job? Think about it.
Business owners in much of this country are crying out for workers. We have food rotting in the fields in California because we don’t have enough workers, yet someone on the other side of the country is crying because they don’t have a job? Do they really need someone to give them a job, or do they need to get off their duffs and go where the jobs are? Why can’t someone who doesn’t have a job in the east, take his oldest son, his brother and brother-in-law and load the pick-up with camping gear and go to California? Why do these people sit home and shake their fingers at someone who is willing to do just that?
Some days I just have to say, “What on earth are they thinking?” Lately I find myself asking this question more and more. People expect the government to get them their old job back. People expect the government to give their lives meaning and relevance. People expect the government to make them feel important and heard.
Meaning in life, relevance, importance and being heard are questions mankind has struggled with for centuries. These are the questions the artists, philosophers, and theologians have been grappling with since time began. These questions are always with humanity. Why on earth have people suddenly decided these are commodities for the government to hand out? Historically, governments have never considered such questions. It isn’t the government’s job to give life meaning. When did someone decide it was?
Once upon a time, I got an insight into how people develop such unrealistic expectations of life. I sat down with my sister-in-law to watch her favorite TV show. I hadn’t watched TV for years. The sitcom from the point of view of a social psychologist was fascinating despite being horrifically unrealistic. The main character, with her perfectly arranged hair, perfect body and make up breezed into her clean kitchen and music played. When I go into my kitchen, music doesn’t play. When I get there, I find someone has left dirty dishes in the sink and the banana in the bowl turned black overnight and is attracting fruit flies – that’s real.
As the sitcom continued, every time the heroine said something halfway witty, creepy laughter erupted out of her walls. Thankfully, despite the fact that I am frequently witty and clever, creepy laughter never erupts from my walls. Folks, it isn’t normal for walls to laugh when you say something charming to the cat. Most of us go through life without anybody laughing at our jokes.
The sitcom had about twenty minutes of action disrupted by commercials that hinted that if you bought their paper towels you would look like the heroine in the sitcom and your bananas would never turn black in the bowl. At the end of the twenty minutes, our heroine had decided to have a garage sale, arranged the sale, priced and advertised then sold most of the clothes in her closet collecting two thousand dollars to pay off her credit card. Heck, it would take me longer than twenty minutes just to determine if I had enough stuff to have a sale, and I certainly couldn’t raise two thousand dollars at a garage sale if I sold every stitch of clothing I own. Tee shirts with grease spots aren’t worth much.
There is no such thing as realistic TV or reality TV yet at least subliminally, we let the unreality slip into our psyche and influence our sense of self worth. Really, there is nothing wrong with anybody or their life if music doesn’t play when they enter the kitchen or if their bananas turn black and their clothes are too loose one week and too tight the next. That’s just the way life is and has nothing to do with success or value.
So if the walls don’t laugh at your jokes, your bananas turn black and music doesn’t play, where do you get your sense of value? The government isn’t going to give you value, meaning, relevance or even listen to you. Where to find relevance and meaning has been a huge question for humankind forever. People have looked for meaning in lots of places, and they have found meaning, relevance and value. I suspect we all know where to find value for our lives. We can find relevance at the food bank, if we volunteer to unload a truck. We can find meaning carrying the neighbor’s garbage to the corner. We can find our sense of place in the world between the pages of a book. We can find our sense of power just weeding the garden or mowing the lawn. You can find your legacy in making life magical for a child.
Now, if you really want music to play when you enter the garage or kitchen, you can set up a motion activated stereo system that breaks forth with the Stars Wars theme every time you or your dog enters a room. Aaron Copeland’s fanfare for a common man is another great theme. I suppose you can even have your sound system laugh at all your witty remarks, still we all have to do the hard work of loving and serving others in order to find meaning and relevance. Nobody, especially not the government, is going to give you a sense of value and importance. These things are earned through hard work.